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Snackification: How the Rise of Snacking Is Changing the Food Industry

26 July 2023

Are standard meals becoming a thing of the past? Perhaps. With a growing trend to balance blood sugar levels by eating small snacks throughout the day, snacking could be rising. 

Snaking reduces stress and improves mood when hangry starts to hit. It can also provide an energy boost. So, is “snackification” replacing the way we usually eat? What is its impact on food product development?

Are we consuming more snacks than meals?

First, before we go into statistics, we need to define snacks. Snacks are small food servings consumed between meals. They can be processed or packaged foods, in addition to fresh produce like nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit. Canada ranked sixth in the global snack food industry, consuming $11 billion USD.

The top five snack food categories in 2021 (ranking in order of popularity) include:

  • Salty snacks

  • Nuts, fruits, and seeds

  • Cookies

  • Crackers

  • Nutritious, portable food

Why are snack foods increasing?

Some experts blame the pandemic for the rise in snack foods. According to reports released by Mondelez International, over half of the interviewed adults saw snacking as a lifeline. 

Today, trends indicate that people are more health conscious about their snacking trends.

  • 84% say snacks need to meet nutritional needs.

  • 78% will take time to enjoy an indulgent snack.

  • 61% portion snacks before consumption.

  • 68% examine nutritional labels.

When it comes to sustainability, 69% believe that sustainable packaging contributes to their enjoyment of the meal, and 82% wished packaging was biodegradable. Consumers are willing to pay more (64%) for snacks that are good for our environment, while 65% will pay more for ethically sourced ingredients. 

Yet, the overall concern with snacking remains on highly processed snacks, which contain increasing amounts of fat and sugar. With snacking, more focus should be on healthier alternatives when replacing or adding a meal instead of for convenience.

However, there is a growing awareness of the nutritional value of our meals. This awareness has caused a shift in consumer demand for healthier alternatives. 

Thus, “better for you” types of snacks are gaining popularity over the usual Pop-Tarts and candy. The rise in healthy eating will only increase as our culture becomes busier.

What is the snackification movement?

Snackification suggests that we are consuming food more like snacks instead of meals. Food is becoming smaller in portion size, higher in nutritional value, tastier, and easier to eat. 

Manufacturers are now reshaping their products based on this trend. Gen Zs are turning to portable, functional, nutritional, and single-serving snacks. In contrast, they also want satisfying and indulgent snacks. With a rising demand for plant-based snacking, there is more diversity in this industry.

How is the snack food industry changing?

Research by Mintel indicates that 51% of Canadians want healthier snacks. For those between 18-24 years of age, 45% want regular food in snack-sized portions. Since they are often on the go, those in the same age category were more likely to dine out, yet feel the financial impact of their decision. They would thus like smaller serving sizes at lower costs.

Aside from healthier eating, there is a trend toward flavour mash-ups and nostalgic flavours. It is not uncommon to find flavour combinations in an attempt to provide something new to consumers. Furthermore, startup companies often incorporate common flavours inspired by childhood into their products.

These flavours include birthday cake, peanut butter and jelly, cotton candy, breakfast cereal, and soda pop. Other favourites include pumpkin spice, salted caramel, and salted eggs.

Further changes to the snack food industry include making product offerings more relevant to changing needs. Manufacturers are launching new best-selling item formats and innovating permissible indulgences. They are also providing healthier products containing clear messages without compromising on taste. 

Consumers say they are willing to pay more for new varieties or specialties. With more people in hybrid work environments or working from home, snacking and meals have changed. People are looking for something suited to their lifestyle while remaining healthy. As a result, these consumers are looking for food items with different shapes, textures, and appearances.

For these consumers, portability isn’t always a factor. So, manufacturers are choosing to incorporate snack sizes in their offerings, hoping to attract more customer business. In a post-pandemic world, manufacturers are initiating the following changes to their snacks:

  • Easy to read labeling: Simple, clear packaging designs are created to stand out in a market saturated with various claims and new labels.

  • Not compromising on taste: Products provide a balance between indulgent and clean labels.

  • Functional ingredients: With shifting trends, ingredients that promote good health and wellness are becoming essential.

The most common triggers for indulging in a snack include the top 10 labels, which include the following:

Non-GMO, whole grain, no artificial preservatives/flavours, vegan, and natural are all tied for growth.

Another interesting note is the growth in e-commerce in the snacking industry. Furthermore, the demand for delivery from supermarkets and/or third-party platforms has increased. There is a direct-to-consumer trend that has remained in place. Thus, there is a movement for manufacturers to provide a mixed digital strategy.

When do people snack?

This question is interesting because there is mixed information. Global snacking indicates that people snack more at home. Teens and young adults will snack more while streaming or watching television. They are looking for more traditional snack foods.

Meanwhile, there is an overlap in the 20-30 age group. Many people in this age category are either busy with work or children. Thus, they are continually on the go and are more health conscious. They are looking for smaller portion sizes and healthier, sustainable alternatives.

Those who are older are mixed. Some want more indulgent snack items. Others are more health conscious out of necessity or are looking at foods that will reduce their health risks. For those that like the occasional indulgence, snack-sized portions are more appealing. Additionally, they appreciate healthier foods to snack on. 

What do these trends mean?

These trends indicate that manufacturers must be more sensitive to the occasion when dealing with various age groups. This trend isn’t bad, as it creates diversity in what is being offered.

Opportunities in this industry will lie in fulfilling snack motivations centring around the need for self-reward, meal replacements, and distracted snacking.

On the Cutting Edge of Snackification Trends

At Hela Spice, we are on the cutting edge of food product development. We provide meal-enhancing solutions catered to our customers’ tastes, needs, and diets. In addition to traditional flavour-enhancement methods, we also provide plant-based alternatives. 

We are continually reinventing and reimagining our ingredients. We constantly aim to make them look, taste, and stay fresh longer. Our food technology solutions perfectly balance signature flavours, nutrition, and satisfaction.

Contact us on our website or phone us at 905-852-5100 to discuss your flavouring and well-being needs. Our products are nutritious, flavourful, and can elevate any dish. See how we can tantalize your taste buds with your next meal!

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